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Will T20 World Cup 2024 vitalise MLC? Where MLC stands commercially vis a vis NFL, NBA & MLB?

Will ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 increase participation in Major League Cricket (MLC)? Checkout where MLC stands commercially vis a vis NFL, NBA & MLB?


Will T20 World cup 2024 vitalise Major Cricket League (MLC) in USA? Walking Wicket (Sources: ©MLCricket_Twitter)
Will T20 World cup 2024 vitalise MLC in USA? (Sources: ©MLCricket/X)

The T20 World Cup 2024, which is set to begin from June 2, will be jointly hosted by the West Indies and the United States of America (USA). This is the first time the United States is hosting such a premier cricketing event. This is a great move to promote the gentleman’s game in the USA as the country can be another hot-bed of cricketing action in the future. 


Besides, the World T20 will give much impetus to the domestic league in the United States named Major Cricket League (MLC) that is entrusted with promoting the sport. The second season of MLC will kick-start right after the World T20 ends. Hence, it will carry forward the viewership gained from the world event into the domestic league. This will not only boost the league in the form of attracting more eyeballs, sponsorship and revenue but also star cricketers. 


So, how World T20 can help MLC grow and compete with other popular leagues in the United States such as the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Basketball Association (NBA)?



Current state of MLC

MLC was launched by the USA Cricket to promote cricket in the United States, engage the current fans and draw new spectators to the sport. Its secondary aims were to attract sponsorship, advertisement and improve the cricketing infrastructure. The first season of MLC saw star cricketers such as Trent Boult, Nicholas Pooran, Mitchell Marsh, Quinton de Kock, Marcus Stoinis and Aaron Finch participating in the league. It also featured Unmukt Chand who retired from Indian cricket to play in the United States. 


A lot of other big names are also associated with MLC. American Cricket Enterprises, which promotes the league, has 20 investors, including the likes of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Adobe Chairman and CEO Shantanu Narayen, Paytm Founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma among others. For the record, MLC in 2022 had raised funds of $120 million to build stadiums and cricketing infrastructure in the country to promote the sport. 


The league also featured investment from Knight Riders Group, owner of IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, to become a stakeholder in the MLC. They owned and formed a team named LA Knight Riders led by Sunil Narine. Likewise, Indiawin Sports, which owns IPL team Mumbai Indians, formed MI New York, which emerged champions of the inaugural season of MLC in 2023. 



Nicholas Pooran was the highest run getter in MLC 2023_ Walking Wicket (Sources_ ©MLCricket_Twitter)
Pooran was the highest run getter (388) in MLC 2023 (Sources: ©MLCricket/Twitter)

Status of MLC vis a vis NFL, NBA & MLB

Season

League

Avg Viewers/game

Total ground spectator

Sponsorship revenue

2023-24

NBA

1.6 mn

2,25,38,518

$1.05 bn

2023

NFL

17.9 mn

1,88,50,000

$2.4 bn

2023

MLB

9.11 mn

7,00,00,000

$70.6 mn

2023

World Cup

10.79 mn

12,50,307

$150 mn

2023

MLC

NA

70,000

$8 mn*

2022

World T20

1.7 mn

751,597

$101.5 mn

*total revenue from the tournament mn - Million, bn - Billion 


NBA, MLB and NFL not only enjoy a great fan-following in the United States, but they are also billion-dollar industries. Cricket is also not broadcasted in that many countries. The numbers are 214 for the NBA, 195 for the NFL and over 200 for the MLB. But it is still a popular sport, and is catching up in the United States. 


The inaugural season of MLC performed above expectations, getting over 70,000 spectators over 19 matches and making total revenue of $8 million in the inaugural season. But it is just a drop in the ocean compared to the earnings from NBA, MLB and NFL in the United States. Although MLC is unable to compete financially with NBA, MLB and NFL currently, it has potential to grow big and become another cash-rich event just like the IPL in India. MLC can also be promoted as a direct competitor to MLB, but winning fans from baseball won’t be easy.



How can ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 help?

However, currently, MLC mostly boasts of India-origin or other subcontinental-origin players. For MLC to go global and for cricket to thrive in the United States, the league needs to attract the local Americans. Secondary requirements include more sponsorship and media coverage. Lastly, the final need would be a good cricketing stadium and development in infrastructure. The World T20 being held in the United States will be a step in the right direction. Hence, the success of World T20 in the United States is crucial for the growth of cricket in the country.


The likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are revered as gods among the India-origin Americans. Watching them play in the United States will give an impetus to the love for the sport in their country, leading to more India-origin Americans or even the locals taking up the gentleman’s game. Hence, the success of World T20 in the United States will not only boost the sport in the region, but will also see MLC getting far more recognition as it’ll stem off the ICC event. 


Ahead of the 2024 season, MLC has also signed up with American company Cognizant as the title sponsor. This acts as a great boost to the sport in the United States. MLC could be a mini-IPL if it is managed well, attracting more star cricketers to the league. 


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